If it bleeds it leads. With the specter of his News Corp getting hacked to pieces by the bloody politicians who have done his bidding, Rupert Murdoch has become the bleeding headline. The miasma of Murdoch’s brand of “yellow journalism”, to quote frequent Fox News pundit, Congressman Peter King, has hung over Brits (and Yanks) like a London fog. Now it is being dispersed by blasts from the media mogul’s very own supplicants.
Hacking into the cell phone of a murdered thirteen years-old schoolgirl to make room for false hope and more expressions of family anguish seemed just the ticket to keep a titillating tabloid story going. Ditto that for terrorist bombing victims and dead soldiers. There is no place for morality and ethics when titillation, manipulation, power and profits are the four corners of your world. But sex, lies and payoffs have turned toxic for the Thunder from Down Under.
Conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron, who appointed the editor of Murdoch’s offending newspaper as his administration’s chief spokesman, was shocked, shocked by all this appalling behavior: “The people involved, whether they were directly responsible for the wrongdoing, sanctioned it, or covered it up, however high or low they go, must not only be brought to justice, they must also have no future role in the running of a media company in our country.”
On this side of the pond, King wrote FBI Director Robert Mueller, to declare, “It is revolting to imagine that members of the media would seek to compromise the integrity of a public official for financial gain in the pursuit of yellow journalism…. If these allegations are proven true, the conduct would merit felony charges for attempting to violate various federal statutes related to corruption of public officials and prohibitions against wiretapping. Any person found guilty of this purported conduct should receive the harshest sanctions available under law.”
To what degree has this gangster culture permeated Murdoch States-side operations like Fox ‘News’? Exhibit A is the Bill O’Reilly Loufa Affair. This sordid sortie was quickly covered up by $6 million in hush money Fox News president Roger Ailes purportedly paid to make one plaintiff female producer half O’Really’s age go away. Leave aside the graphic recordings of phone sex and sexual predation contained in the Verified Complaint, Index No. 04114558 filed on October 13, 2004 in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. In “Andrea Mackris, Plaintiff against Bill O’Reilly, News Corporation, Fox News Channel, Defendants,” O’Reilly rails into Mackris’ hidden microphone about what would happen should one of his victims complain:
“If any woman ever breathed a word I’ll make her pay so dearly that she’ll wish she’d never been born. I’ll rake her through the mud, bring up things in her life and make her so miserable that she’ll be destroyed. And besides, she wouldn’t be able to afford the lawyers I can or endure it financially as long as I can. And nobody would believe her, it’d be her word against mine and who are you going to believe? Me or some unstable woman making outrageous accusations. They’d see her as some psycho, someone unstable. Besides, I’d never make the mistake of picking some crazy, unstable girl like that…
“If you cross Fox News Channel, it’s not just me, it’s Roger Ailes who will go after you. I’m the street guy out front making loud noises about issues, but Ailes operates behind the scenes, strategizes and makes things happen so that one day BAM! The person gets what’s coming to them but never sees it coming. Look at Al Franken, one day he’s going to get a knock on his door and life as he’s known it will change forever. That day will come happen, trust me.”
Oh really? Whitey Bolger couldn’t have gangsta-spun it any better, though he wouldn’t have gotten caught on tape.
Implication in criminal activity has not been a disqualifier in the News Corp/Fox world. Consider Fox pundit Karl Rove, who barely escaped prosecution for his role in leaking the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Rove came to his Machiavellian station as “Bush’s Brain” by cutting his spurs on political prankstering. At 19, Rove assumed a false identity to access the campaign office of a Democratic candidate for Illinois treasurer. He concocted a campaign flier on a thousand sheets of stolen letterhead promising “free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing” and distributed them to derelicts who showed up to disrupt the Democrat’s campaign rally. Rove’s fingerprints were all over rumors of John McCain’s POW-induced instability and black love child during the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary.
Grand Old Pranksters can track their tradition back through Lee Atwater, Donald Segretti to the godfather of modern political buggery, Tricky Dick. But it was the grand old man of yellow journalism, William Randolph “You can crush a man with journalism” Hearst who can lay claim to one of the founding principles of Fox family values when he got the boot from Harvard for a bevy of pranks including the imprinting of professors’ names inside chamber (piss) pots. Or so he claimed; turns out he was expelled for grades. Could prankstering be a gateway drug for News Corp criminality?
Lawyer for the family of murdered thirteen years-old Milly Dowler provided the most damning judgment upon yet another resignation and arrest of a News Corp exec: “This is not just about one individual but about the culture of an organization.”
“Charles Foster Kane is a scoundrel,” said Citizen Kane 72 years ago. “His paper should be run out of town.”